This is a very interesting article. If you have 5 to 10 minutes, you should read it I cut out all the unnecessary info, so this is only half the article believe it or not
Interesting article if you have 5-10min you should read this
Michael Pollan, a contributing writer for the magazine, teaches journalism at U.C. Berkeley.
Carbophobia, the most recent in the centurylong series of food fads to wash over the
American table, seems to have finally crested, though not before sweeping away entire
bakeries and pasta companies in its path, panicking potato breeders into redesigning the
spud, crumbling whole doughnut empires and, at least to my way of thinking, ruining an
untold number of meals. America's food industry, more than happy to get behind any new
diet as long as it doesn't actually involve eating less food, is still gung-ho on Low Carb,
it's true, but in the last few weeks, I can report some modest success securing a crust of
bread, and even the occasional noodle, at tables from which such staples were banned
only a few months ago.
Surveying the wreckage of this latest dietary storm makes you wonder if we won't
someday talk about a food fad that demonized bread, of all things, in the same breath we
talk about the all-grape diet that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg used to administer to patients
at his legendarily nutty sanitarium at Battle Creek, Mich., or the contemporaneous vogue
for ''Fletcherizing'' -- chewing each bite of food as many as 100 times -- introduced by
Horace Fletcher (also known as the Great Masticator) at the turn of the last century. That
period marked the first golden age of American food faddism, though of course its
exponents spoke not in terms of fashion but of ''scientific eating,'' much as we do now.
What is striking is just how little it takes to set off one of these applecart-toppling
nutritional swings in America; a scientific study, a new government guideline, a lone
crackpot with a medical degree can alter this nation's diet overnight.
A few years ago, Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist,
and Claude Fischler, a French sociologist, began collaborating on a series of crosscultural
surveys of food attitudes. They found that of the four populations surveyed (the
U.S., France, Flemish Belgium and Japan), Americans associated food with health the
most and pleasure the least. Asked what comes to mind upon hearing the phrase
''chocolate cake,'' Americans were more apt to say ''guilt,'' while the French said
''celebration''; ''heavy cream'' elicited ''unhealthy'' from Americans, ''whipped'' from the
French. The researchers found that Americans worry more about food and derive less
pleasure from eating than people in any other nation they surveyed.
Compared with the French, we're much more likely to choose foods for reasons of health,
and yet the French, more apt to choose on the basis of pleasure, are the healthier (and
thinner) people. How can this possibly be? Rozin suggests that our problem begins with
thinking of the situation as paradoxical. The French experience with food is only a
paradox if you assume, as Americans do, that certain kinds of foods are poisons. ''Look at
fat,'' Rozin points out. ''Americans treat the stuff as if it was mercury.'' That doesn't, of
course, stop us from guiltily gorging on the stuff. A food-marketing consultant once told
me that it's not at all uncommon for Americans to pay a visit to the health club after work
for the express purpose of sanctioning the enjoyment of an entire pint of ice cream before
Perhaps because we take a more ''scientific'' (i.e., reductionist) view of food, Americans
automatically assume there must be some chemical component that explains the
difference between the French and American experiences: it's something in the red wine,
perhaps, or the olive oil that's making them healthier. But how we eat, and even how we
feel about eating, may in the end be just as important as what we eat. The French eat all
sorts of ''unhealthy'' foods, but they do it according to a strict and stable set of rules: they
eat small portions and don't go back for seconds; they don't snack; they seldom eat alone,
and communal meals are long, leisurely affairs. A well-developed culture of eating, such
as you find in France or Italy, mediates the eater's relationship to food, moderating
consumption even as it prolongs and deepens the pleasure of eating.
''Worrying about food is not good for your health,'' Rozin concludes -- a deeply un-
American view. He and Fischler suggest that our anxious eating itself may be part of the
American problem with food, and that a more relaxed and social approach toward eating
could go a long way toward breaking our unhealthy habit of bingeing and fad-dieting.
''We could eat less and actually enjoy it more,'' suggests Rozin. Of course this is easier
said than done. It's so much simpler to alter the menu or nutrient profile of a meal than to
change the social and psychological context in which it is eaten. (There's also a lot more
money to be made fiddling with ingredients and supersizing portions.) And yet what a
wonderful prospect, to discover that the relationship of pleasure and health in eating is
not, as we've been hearing for a hundred years, necessarily one of strife, but that the two
might again be married at the table.
Will you pass the chocolate cake, please?